Looking for the next fantasy series to read can be intimidating. Especially since George R. R. Martin burned us with not finishing A Song of Ice and Fire. (He says he's been making a lot of progress on the next book thanks to holing up from COVID, but I'm not holding my breath.)
In the interest of helping fellow readers find their next big read, I've assembled this list of five best fantasy book series (in my opinion) that are either completely finished or the last book has a definitive publication date within the next year.
These are my personal favorites, all of them pulled from my Favorites page, and the links--highlighted in blue--lead to more in-depth, spoiler-free reviews.
Rick Riordan's Percy Jackson 'verse
This isn't so much one series as it is four series fused together.
We start with the Percy Jackson series and Riordan's debut into YA urban fantasy. The Greek gods are real and still cranking out kids. All the Greek monsters are real, too, and threatening the world. Percy Jackson, son of Poseidon, has to lead a bunch of other demigods to stop them.
Then we get into its sequel series, Heroes of Olympus, which tackles a whole new threat. This is also where we see true effort on Riordan's part to add diversity in his writing. Most Percy Jackson characters have ADHD and/or dyslexia, and there are several girl characters with various strengths. Heroes of Olympus includes several main characters of color and one major gay character.
Then we get the Magnus Chase trilogy and Trials of Apollo series, which both happen at the same time in-canon. There we get the full spectrum of LGBTQ+ characters, many of them canonically from the Norse and Greek pantheons, respectively.
Basically, we see Riordan grow as both a writer and ally as he incorporates more and more diversity in these funny, witty, action-packed stories.
All but the Trials of Apollo series is complete, and the final installment of that series--The Tower of Nero--releases in October.
The Mermaids of Eriana Kwai Trilogy by Tiana Warner
Indigenous girls using iron crossbows to hunt flesh-eating mermaids. What more do you want?
While this trilogy doesn't shirk from showing the bloody horrors of war, it is, fundamentally, a lesson of hope and love. Humans and mermaids have been at war for decades now, until a human Meela teams up with a mermaid Lysi to bring peace between their people, eventually ending up in a lesbian relationship. All while dealing with prejudices, tyrants, and PTSD.
Basically, you're getting an emotional shredder with this one. But it'll all be worth it.
Throne of Glass series by Sarah J. Maas
Young adult/new adult
This eight-book monster of a series follows several characters as they battle evil kings, wicked fae, and mind-controlling demons.
I've complained about the staggering number of romantic subplots in this thing, but Maas still tells a great story. There are mind-boggling plot twists, intense action, and amazing characters, most of them women:
We have Celaena, a teenage assassin who always has a crazy scheme going on.
Manon, the wyvern-riding witch warrior.
The rebel princess Nehemia working to undermine the colonizing tyrant king within his own court.
And several other rulers, leaders, and magic-users. Even if you don't like all of them, you'll love at least some of them.
The Kingston Cycle Trilogy by C. L. Polk
This extremely relevant trilogy takes place in a Victorian-style world where witches either have storm powers, or are used as battery packs for those that do. Slavery in a golden cage.
In addition to a neat magic system and frankly terrifyingly realistic dystopia, each book features a same-sex romantic subplot, which are both adorable.
The main character of the first book, Witchmark, escaped such a fate by running away from home to become a doctor. But then he gets pulled back in by his sister, has to solve a murder, and uncovers a horrible country-wide conspiracy theory.
The second book Stormsong is the immediate aftermath as the characters do damage control and try to save their homeland from itself.
The third book Soulstar will be released in February.
Dread Nation Duology by Justina Ireland
In the American Civil War, zombies first rose during the Battle of Gettysburg. This created a drastically different but also familiar America. By 1880, when the first book starts, the rising dead is mostly (not really) under control, and the United States has something of a system, where black girls are trained to be Attendants to protect their rich (white) employers.
The two books take a very critical look at race in America. Dread Nation specifically picks apart the Reconstruction Era, while its sequel, Deathless Divide goes full-blown Western and criticizes how the "land of opportunity" was really only opportune to some.
The two main characters are also LGBTQ+ black girls: Jane is bisexual, and Katherine remains the only explicitly aroace character I've ever read.
Share your own favorite fantasy series in the comments so I can check them out!
The first Dragons, Zombies and Aliens blog was started in 2015. Somewhere between college coursework, paying rent with door-to-door sales, and keeping up with my sorority sisters, I wrote reviews, rants and commentaries on books, TV shows, and movies. Now, this blog has moved, improved, and the sky's the limit!